Honda – The story of Grrr



Honda introduced their i-CTDi diesel car engine in 2004 with what became a multi-award-winning television commercial known as “Grrr” and “Hate/Change”. We open up on an animated scene – tropical flowers, green manicured meadows, crystal clear lakes and mountains lit by sun rays. The hedges are trimmed with the letters, H, A, T and E. We soon see why the environment has developed this ‘hate’. Noisy, smoky diesel engines zoom through the environment, hassling the wildlife. The rainbow gives one of the engines the flick. White bunny rabbits take on ear muffs before shooting arrows at an engine. And hey – something changes. The engine is now clean, noiseless and friendly to the environment.

The concept for the ad comes from the Honda lead engineer being asked to design a diesel engine. Kenichi Nagahiro had long resisted the idea, on the grounds that diesel engines were smelly and noisy, bad for the environment. But his hate for the diesel engine led to the development of a new engine much kinder on the eyes, ears and nose, not to mention the animals. The engine was fitted in the new Accord and introduced to the UK in early 2004.

The lyrics for the Honda Diesel Hate ad are sung by Garrison Keillor, American author and voice artist, along with Wieden + Kennedy writers and whistlers Michael Russoff, Sean Thompson and Richard Russell, under the band name “Be Nice to the Pigeons”.

Here’s a little song for anyone who’s ever hated…
in the key of Grr

Can hate be good?
Can hate be great?
Can hate be good?
Can hate be great?
Can hate be something we don’t hate?
Whistling…

We’d like to know
why it is so
that certain diesels must be slow
and thwack and thrum
and pong and hum
can clatter clat
Hate something
Change something
Hate something change something
Make something better
Whistling…

Oh isn’t it just bliss
when a diesel goes just like this?
Whistling…

Sing it like you hate it…
Hate something
Change something
Hate something
Change something
Make something better

The ad features creatures associated with environmental protection, innocence and joy… butterflies, swans, peacock, deer, humming birds, frog, chickens, bunnies, seahorses, turtles, goats, penguins, pink flamingos, robin, dolphins, seals and a ladybird.
The campaign also came out with an online flash-based game featuring a rabbit that visits nine environments, eats carrots, and changes shoddy technology into environmentally friendly features.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 27 Sep 2004

HONDA ASKS – CAN HATE BE GOOD?

Honda’s latest TV ad has Garrison Keillor singing …. and explains why hate can sometimes be a positive emotion!
‘Hate something, change something’ is the theme for Honda’s first ever diesel engine TV commercial, which breaks this week (1 Oct). Entitled ‘Grrr-, the 90 second commercial takes the viewer on a journey through an optimistic animated world of ‘positive hate’. The film tells the story behind the creation of Honda’s first diesel in a unique way. Kenichi Nagahiro, the company’s chief engine designer and inventor of the celebrated VTEC engine, hated diesel engines, hated how noisy, smelly and dirty they were. When asked to design Honda’s first diesel he flatly refused – unless he was allowed to start completely from scratch. The result is one of the cleanest, most refined diesel engines on the market today, the 2.2 i-CTDi. Cute bunnies, pretty flowers and rainbows – things typically associated with positive imagery – show their dislike of dirty, noisy, smelly diesel engines by destroying them in exchange for something better. They joyfully celebrate the arrival of Honda’s new diesel. And throughout the film Garrison Keillor sings a specially written folk song in which he asks the question ‘Can hate be good?’ Wieden + Kennedy, which produced the advertisement, were captivated by the idea of talking about Hate as something positive, a passionate force that could actually be turned to good use, and the slogan ‘Hate Something, Change Something’ was born. ‘One of the biggest challenges was how to talk about hate in a really positive way that felt right for Honda,- says Kim Papworth, Creative Director at Wieden + Kennedy, London. ‘Writing a song and creating an animated world of positive hate was the natural next step. The commercial breaks as a 90- in cinemas from 24 September and launches on TV from 1 October as a 90- and 60-. The campaign will be supported by press, radio, and interactive TV, as well as extensive content on Honda.co.uk.

Honda Grrr on Wikipedia

Advertising Agency: Wieden+Kenndy, London
Executive Creative Director: Wave London
Creative Director: Tony Davidson/Kim Papworth
Copywriter: Sean Thompson/Michael Russoff/Richard Russell
Art Director: Sean Thompson/Michael Russoff/Richard Russell
Production Company: Nexus Productions, London
Director: Adam Foulkes/Alan Smith



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